UK strikes 2022: Which services and sectors are striking or threatening to strike?

UK strikes 2022: Which services and sectors are striking or threatening to strike?

Hundreds of thousands of workers across multiple sectors have voted to go on strike, including rail workers, university staff, teachers, Royal Mail workers, and civil servants.

University lecturers and teachers

On Monday, November 24, 70,000 lecturers, librarians, and researchers across 150 UK universities kicked off three days of strike action over pay, working conditions, and pensions.

The University and College Union (UCU) said they were prepared to take “even bigger action” in the new year unless conditions improved.

On the same day, Scottish schools shut as teachers went on strike, making it Scotland’s first national schools strike since the Eighties.

The teaching staff want better pay and revised pay offers have been made, but the unions rejected them, asking for a 10 per cent rise instead. Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville says their demands are “unaffordable”.

Rail workers

Meanwhile, rail unions have announced that they are planning a number of 48-hour walkouts across December and January over their long-running dispute over pay, jobs, and working conditions.

Rail workers will strike on December 13, 14, 16, 17, as well as from 6pm on December 24 until December 27.

There will be further strike action on January 3, 4, 6, and 7.

Talking about the plans, which are estimated to cause a £300 million blow to London’s economy ahead of Christmas, the general secretary of the RMT unions said he was “not the Grinch”.

The rail workers’ strike actions have been ongoing for months, leaving many unable to get to work and significantly affecting businesses across the nation.

A quiet Waterloo Station during the strike (Jeremy Selwyn)
A quiet Waterloo Station during the strike (Jeremy Selwyn)

Nurses and medics

Around 300,000 nursing staff are also planning their first strike in history, with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) set to announce its first formal strike dates in the coming days.

Their strike is set to run until early May next year, and the union has said it will be carried out in a legal and safe manner.

Their colleagues, junior doctors and paramedics, aren’t happy about pay, either. The British Medical Association (BMA) has asked for medics to be awarded a 26 per cent pay increase. If they cannot agree on a pay rise, BMA and around 45,000 junior doctors will cast their votes to decide if they wish to go on strike.

Similarly, Unite, which represents 100,000 NHS workers, is set to hold a vote on November 30.

Ambulance workers

On December 6, it was announced that more than 10,000 ambulance workers across nine trusts in England and Wales have decided on strike action.

Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers, and other ambulance staff will strike on December 21, 2022, as a result of disputes over pay.

Talking about the decision, Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said: “After 12 years of Conservative cuts to the service and their pay packets, NHS staff have had enough.

“The last thing they want to do is take strike action but the Government has left them with no choice. The Government could stop this strike in a heartbeat – but they need to wake up and start negotiating on pay.

“Health Secretary Steve Barclay needs to listen and engage with us about pay. If he can’t talk to us about this most basic workforce issue, what on Earth is he Health Secretary for?”

Civil servants

December will also see around 100,000 civil servants across more than 100 government departments walk out, impacting the Home Office, JobCentres, passport and DVLA procedures, the Border Force, and more. The military is expected to be drafted in to cover for Border Force workers.

Road workers have announced that they will strike over 12 days in December and January, with the action risking “ bringing the road network to a standstill”.

They will strike in different parts of England on December 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 30, and 31, and on January 3, 4, 6, and 7.

Royal Mail workers

And Royal Mail workers have decided to walk out in the busy Christmas period, on December 9, 11, 14, 15, 23, and 24.

This is after previous strikes around Black Friday, on November 24 and 25.

Firefighters

Firefighters, who refused a five per cent pay rise, are running a ballot on strike action from now until January 30.

More than 33,000 firefighters and control-room staff will vote on whether to take industrial action.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Strike action will always be a last resort but we are running out of options.

“Many firefighters and control staff are desperate. Some are struggling to afford to live. It is a dreadful and very serious state of affairs.

“We are doing everything we can to secure a decent offer. We have held talks with and written letters to many different parties, but no such pay offer has been forthcoming.”

Shelter employees

More than 600 workers at the homelessness charity Shelter are beginning an “unprecedented” fortnight of strike action from Monday (December 5) in a dispute over pay.

The Unite union said a three per cent pay increase this year had left some of Shelter’s staff still unable to pay their rent and very worried about the possibility of becoming homeless themselves.

The union accused the charity’s management of refusing to enter into meaningful negotiations.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is unforgivable that workers at Shelter find themselves actually being haunted by the prospect of being made homeless.

“Shelter has sufficient reserves to pay its hardworking and dedicated staff a decent pay rise but it has chosen not to.”

Other strikes

Here are some of the other disputes which have led to strikes or ballots for action:

  • Physiotherapists and midwives are also being asked if they want to take industrial action.

  • Almost 1,000 bus drivers in London employed by Abellio are to stage 10 days of strike action in the coming weeks over pay, their union Unite has announced.

  • More than 50 security guards and CCTV operators at Harrods are set to walk out for 12 days in the build-up to Christmas, according to Unite.

  • The workers in food factories that make Twiglets and Jacob’s Cream Crackers have been on indefinite strike since September.

  • G4S workers, who deliver cash to big names like Barclays, HSBC, Tesco, and Asda, will go on strike on Monday, December 4.